Good and gracious God,
Today we come before you with heavy hearts
as we remember the events of 9/11.
For some of us today is a mixed bag of emotions.
We hurt deeply for those who lost their lives
and those who lost their loved ones.
We mourn the nearly 3,000 who died that day.
We are humbled by the bravery of the first responders.
We continue to grieve with our neighbors
in the loss of our national innocence —
our false sense of constant safety.
As we think of the way
New York and D.C. responded,
as churches, synagogues, and temples
opened their doors to ALL people,
as strangers carried each other out of buildings,
as those who had shared with those who had lost —
as we remember the bravery of the passengers and crew
of United Airlines Flight 93
our pride wells up in us.
Yet, we struggle today,
not wanting to get caught up in the macabre celebration,
this sometimes too-prideful remembrance of loss.
We still remember how the world responded,
supporting us and even declaring us one people.
“Today We Are ALL Americans,”
the headlines read.
And we remember the immediate call to war.
And the more than 100,000 deaths from it.
God of all people,
teach us to be patriotic, but humbly so.
Teach us to see the frailty, beauty, and value of life
in light of this tragedy
rather than using it to elevate
trivial difference to the heights of
divisive reasons for hatred.
Remind us of the response of the American people
and not the response of the government
and its war machine.
Remind us of
the way the true heart of this nation's people was revealed
in open doors, open arms, and open hearts.
May we never forget that on that day
we did not focus on nationality, wealth, education, sex, or sexuality.
We focused on need.
Call us back to that place in our hearts.
Instill in us the deepest sense of call
to be that people once again.
We lift up to you all those who, even today,
years later, suffer from the loss.
From N.Y.C. to Iraq, the tragedy
has deeply and profoundly affected millions.
May we continue to heal
and help each other
just as we did
Mark Sandlin was the minister at Vandalia Presbyterian Church in Greensboro, NC when this article appeared. He received his M. Div. from Wake Forest University's School of Divinity and has undergraduate degrees in Business Administration and English with a minor in Computer Science. He's an ordained minister in the PC(USA) and a self-described progressive.